I sit on the balcony watching the ocean come into the shore and go back out again. It's like therapy to my soul. The sound brings peace and the sight brings rest. I don't have a care in the world. I hear His voice and the rhythm heals my anxious heart. I'm close to Him here. A mission trip to Myrtle Beach, South Carolina that I wasn't even looking forward to became something that healed me, reset me, gave me room to breathe. I don't like being removed from my routine. It's difficult for me. Causes some nerves and fear. But this time, as I was removed from my "normal," I was able to see more clearly. God gives me room to breathe. He invites me into it. He beckons me into it. He never meant for me to be suffocated by religion, beaten up by striving, held back by perfectionism, and distracted by worry. I struggle to breathe sometimes.I get caught up in what's going on around me, more than keeping my eyes fixed on the one Who is for me.
My word for this year is "Listen." My inspiration was from the verse John 10:27 which says, "My own sheep will hear my voice and I know each one, and they will follow me." As I read this verse, I get the picture of a child crawling into Daddy's lap and snuggling into His chest and listening to His heartbeat.
With the imprinted image of the ocean waves coming in and going out in my mind and soul, I am now on the way home from this sweet, refreshing trip. Sitting in the car, all of a sudden, I become keenly aware that I'm going home to a pandemic. Blame it on the YouTube videos, the notifications on my phone, or the podcasts we listened to, I started to shift my focus. The image in my mind of the ocean waves turned now to COVID-19, COVID-19, and COVID-19 again.
The rhythms of the ocean waves never abandoned me. I abandoned them.
And isn't this true in our relationship with God? He never leaves us. But we leave Him. We stop reading our word. We stop praying. Our mind is more fixated on our worry than our worship. We move from anchored in peace to thrown about by the storms of life.
I come back to Harrisonburg to adjust everything we do to being online. I'm now having to record video content (very uncomfortable for me, by the way) and somehow lead every one of the students in our mission and vision. All the while, I'm not even really sure I'm okay.
There's a story in Luke 10:38-41 "As Jesus and the disciples continued on their journey, they came to a village where a woman welcomed Jesus into her home. Her name was Martha and she had a sister named Mary. Mary sat down attentively before the Master, absorbing every revelation he shared. But Martha became exasperated by finishing the numerous household chores in preparation for her guests, so she interrupted Jesus and said, 'Lord, don't you think it's unfair that my sister left me to do all the work by myself? You should tell her to get up and help me.' The Lord answered her, 'Martha, my beloved Martha. Why are you upset and troubled, pulled away by all these many distractions? Are they really that important? Mary has discovered the one thing most important by choosing to sit at my feet. She is undistracted, and I won't take this privilege from her.'" (TPT)
This story reminds me of my word for this year. Listen. Mary was so attentive to the voice of God that she tuned out all other voices other than his. Much like a child crawled into Daddy's lap, snuggling into His chest and listening to His heartbeat.
I often allow myself to become suffocated by the pressures I put on myself to be the perfect leader. As the pressures build up I become distracted by my to-do list; and my attention moves from my Savior to the demands of the day. As the weight of my demands and pressures weigh heavier on me, my chest gets tight and anxiety is at an all time high. I feel like I have become dissolved into the waterfall of emotions that have come upon me as my focus shifted from being fixated on my Savior.
I left His lap.
When I realize my heart is much too heavy, I remember I was supposed to stay connected to His.
Verse 40 says that Martha interrupted Jesus. She interrupted him to bring her own complaint. We do this too. We interrupt the voice of Jesus to mention the worries that are on our minds. He wants to speak, but we're already talking. He wanted the rhythms of His voice from the ocean never to leave my soul. But I turned my attention to the coronavirus. He wants to speak. Will I listen?
This morning I woke up and I breathed deep. He's with me. He never left. The rhythms came back as I took a moment to remember. LISTEN. Don't leave. Stay close. The ocean waves come in. The ocean waves go out. I see it again. The rhythms of His voice heal my anxious heart. It's a journey, of this I am sure. We'll never get it perfect. But today is one step closer than yesterday. He will have my attention. I'll stay in His lap. He gives me room to breathe